CHOI Case --Free Speech AND Property Rights
With the advent of the internet and satellite TV, the CRTC has already become something of an anachronism. Those who don’t like its protectionist Canadian content rules or prissy broadcast standards can escape them by tuning in foreign broadcasts via computer or grey-market dish antenna. Upcoming technological improvements promise to provide us with even greater opportunities to circumvent the culture cops. But since most of us still have radios in our homes and cars and like to listen occasionally to local news, it will be a while before radio broadcasting over the airwaves becomes completely obsolete.
Radio waves (or rather, broadcast
considered public property in
But there’s no more justification for the state to have nationalized the airwaves than there would be for the state to nationalize any other means of communication. Imagine the outcry there would be if the government announced that henceforth it would be the sole legal supplier of newsprint in the country and newspapers would be allowed to publish only under government licence, revocable at the government’s pleasure. This would be a clearly unacceptable infringement on freedom of speech.
You can search the CRTC website in vain for
any hint as to
how this came about. Although it
contains a history of broadcasting in
The history of the airwaves in the
Signal interference was the obvious problem,
but it wasn’t
All of that was lost when the
But some Americans, bless ’em, still harbour these silly notions that maybe it’s not a good idea for the state to have the arbitrary power to grant and revoke broadcasting licences. Maybe it’s because their constitution, unlike ours, protects not only freedom of speech, but also property rights. (Note that if CHOI loses its licence, a $25 million business will instantly vanish into thin air.)
So periodically, some Americans raise the issue of privatizing the airwaves again. And every time it happens, the statists come out of the woodwork ranting about how awful it would be. Evil multi-national corporations would control all communications, blah, blah, blah.
Why these people are so afraid of giant corporations but not afraid of giant government is something I have never understood. Corporations, at least, do not have a legal monopoly on the use of force.
The government-lovers seem totally oblivious to be to the role they themselves have played in promoting corporate concentration. They seem to think you can pile laws and regulations onto businesses ad infinitum, without consequences. In fact, the more burdensome regulations become, the less likely it is that small businesses will survive. If it’s a full-time task for someone to keep up to date with all the labour regulations, the tax regulations, the human rights laws, the broadcast regulations, etc. then the business with 1,000 employees has a clear advantage over the business with only ten. For the big firm, regulatory compliance is only one-thousandth of its workload. For the small firm, it’s a tenth.
Meanwhile, CHOI has had a reprieve, but its
close call must
certainly be a chilling incentive to other broadcasters to knuckle down